July 15, 2006 Subject:
Classic Chaplin from the old Karno days
This is a great film not just for Charlie's performance as both the "Swell" in the orchestra seats and the comic drunk up in the balcony - it's also a record of the kind of show Chaplin did with the travelling Karno Company, a music-hall/vaudville show that featured not only Chaplin but also a young Stan Laurel. Both would stay behind in California when the Karno company moved on through the mists of theatrical history.
One of the old Karno acts was a hockey game played on stage in roller skates - elements from that act were featured in Chaplin's "The Rink" and "Modern Times".
In "A Night At The Show", Chaplin plays both the swell (which I believe Laurel played in the stage act) and the drunk in the balcony (which was his original stage role). The seating arrangements for the film have been altered from the original stage presentation, the cameras allowing Chaplin to appear in two places at the same time and taking advantage of the full theatre set. In the original Karno stage production, theatre box seats were placed on either side of the stage, allowing the performers (Chaplin, Laurel et al) to be in the audience and on stage at the same time.
A good campanion film for this from Chaplin's oeuvre would be his solo turn in "One Night".